Young Star Expands Radio Redux Family
Adriana Ripley joins the Radio Redux cast for Miracle on 34th Street. Adriana recently starred as Dragon Diva in Shrek staged by Rose Children's Theatre.
For most seventh-graders, life involves being kept busy with school, friends, and just starting to figure out who they are and what they are interested in. For Adriana Ripley, her life involves these things and more, and she’s on the fast-track to having herself figured out.
Adriana is playing Susan in Radio Redux’s production of Miracle on 34th Street for the holiday season, debuting her radio theater career. Her character is a lively young girl whose belief in St. Nick and the magic of Christmas inspires children and adults alike to believe and let their imagination take flight.
At 12 years old, she has already been involved with more productions than many performers have in their entire careers. This fall, she has been taking dance classes at two different studios, juggling rehearsals and performances with four different dance companies (including touring with the Eugene Youth Ballet in their version of The Nutcracker), playing the role of Dragon Diva in the Rose Children’s Theater’s production of Shrek — and now taking on her role with Radio Redux in Miracle on 34th Street.
“Music, dance and theater are all the very center of my life, no matter where I go,” said Adriana. “I love theater, I love dance. I’ve met many of my friends through dance and theater.”
This is, of course, all on top of being a full-time student, who also happens to be in the French immersion program at Roosevelt Middle School.
Watching her dance and perform, you would never know how busy she is, as she’s lively and alert and seems always ready for the next thing.
In this case, that’s Radio Redux.
I’m excited to try radio theater because I’ve never heard theater over the radio,” Adriana said, “so it’s kind of an interesting point of view to be coming from.”
Adriana (right) during the first read-through with Miracle on 34th Street cast members
including Achilles Massahos (on her right).
Though this will be her first show with Radio Redux, Adriana is not worried about performing this new type of theater. She’s more worried about the technical aspects that come with Radio Redux.
“Fred [Crafts, Radio Redux director] said ‘You’re going to have to learn to flip your script with one hand and gesture and be in character with the other,’ ” Adriana said. “The in character part I can do, but the script thing… I’m more nervous about that.”
Said Fred, “Adriana’s already a pro. She’ll have our style down pat in no time and then deliver a fabulous performance. I can’t wait for the audience to see her.”
Thankfully, Adriana has the help of Fred and Radio Redux veteran actors to figure things out once rehearsals begin.
“I think she’s excited because all her other theater experiences, except for Les Mis, she’s done with all kids,” said Adriana’s mother, Monique Ripley. “But with this one she’s the only kid and she likes the idea of working with adults and learning from them.”
Monique is highly involved with Adriana’s activities, and serves as president of the board of directors for the Rose Children’s Theater. She said Adriana has been taking dance classes since she was two years old, and performing with the Rose Children’s Theater since first grade, where her first role was as a shrub at the back of the stage — by request of a young Adriana struck with her first bout of stage fright. This was overcome with some help from Debi Noel, who was Adriana’s first voice teacher and who will join Adriana on stage in Miracle on 34th Street. (Debi, and the rest of the singing group The Jewel Tones, perform regularly with Radio Redux.)
“In the production of Les Mis, directed by Debi Noel, Adriana was terrified and didn’t want to go on stage,” said Monique. “Debi said ‘Go out, and get on stage.’ and Adriana did it and once everybody clapped she came back and said, ‘I love it!’ She hasn’t wanted to be a shrub or in the shadows since.”
Adriana became especially excited about being in Miracle on 34th Street after sitting down for the first read-through with the rest of the cast.
Adriana (first row, left) with cast members from Miracle on 34th Street.
“The way they interacted was so hysterical,” she said. “All the accents, and facial expressions, and little inside jokes that I had absolutely no idea what they’re talking about but I laughed anyway because it’s funny.” Because of her experience with the cast, Adriana said she looks forward to working with Radio Redux again in the future when there are roles available to her as a younger cast member.
Unlike many young performers, Adriana isn’t sure she sees herself with a future on Broadway. Instead, she may see her future self in a doctor’s coat, going through medical school and keeping her love of the arts alive on the side: saving lives by day, enriching them with music and acting by night.
But until then, Radio Redux is happy to have her on as Susan for their holiday production this season.
— By Jordyn Brown. Jordyn is a student in the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications. She also writes for the Daily Emerald and Ethos Magazine on campus.